STOP Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in the world by JSTOR. Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial purposes. Read more about Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate-jstor/individuals/early- journal-content . JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. REMINISCENCES OF THE CIVIL WAR BY A CONFEDERATE STAFF OFFICER* (FIRST PAPER) Plantation Life in Virginia Before the War Everybody knows that Harper's Ferry was the scene of the John Brown raid in October, 1859, but there are things concerning the raid and Harper's Ferry and its surroundings which are not known to everybody. In Harper's Ferry there was an armory and arsenal belong- ing to the government. At the time of the raid large quantities of arms, 100,000 stand of rifles, had been made there and were stored in the arsenal for use when needed. The town was situated at the northeastern end of the great Valley of Virginia, at the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. It is supposed that this valley was, in the early days of the world, a great lake 120 miles long and fourteen to twenty miles wide, and that the pressure of waters had broken through the moun- tain barriers at Harper's Ferry, draining the lake, and leaving a fertile valley, washed on the south side by the Shenandoah river and on the northeast by the Potomac. Whether or not the theory of the lake be true, certainly an alluvial deposit made the valley celebrated for its fertility, yielding to the farmer a rich return for his labor, and sustaining a large population, prosper- ous, comfortable, and happy. At Shepherdstown, twelve miles above Harper's Ferry, on the Potomac, the first boat was propelled by steam ; in 1 786 Rum- sey, the inventor, launched his boat on the waters of the Poto- mac and attained a speed of four or five miles an hour against the current. Rumsey lived alone in a log cabin on the banks of the river, was silent and meditative, and was generally thought by his neighbors to be wrong in his head. There was a path known as * Copyright, 1913, by the author. This is the first of a series of articles by the same author which will run through several numbers of the Review. — Editor. Reminiscences of Civil War by Confederate Staff Officer 429 Rumsey's walk, along the cliff which overhangs the river, where Rumsey walked for hours daily, with his hands clasped behind his back, his head bent, evidently thinking out his invention. He was a very poor man, but at last, by the aid of a few friends, he launched his boat with the results above stated. Being told that England was the proper place for his efforts, by the further aid of friends, he went there, but poverty stuck to him and the boat he built at Liverpool was attached by creditors, and his ef- forts thus ended in failure. After many trials and sufferings some friends persuaded him to address a meeting of the citi- zens of Liverpool which would be called. So many were his disappointments that he did not suppose a dozen people would be present. What must have been his surprise when, on enter- ing the stage, he beheld a sea of faces awaiting his words. He arose to address his audience of interested and admiring people packed to the doors, but the task was beyond him, he fell in a fit of apoplexy, and died without uttering a word. The northeasternmost end of the Valley of Virginia, embrac- ing the counties of Jefferson, Clarke, Frederick, and Berkeley (Jefferson and Berkeley being now part of West Virginia) was settled by families mainly from Eastern Virginia, attracted by the fertility of the soil. These people brought with them the manners, habits, and social customs of old. Virginia, including the institution of slavery. Up to the time of which I am writing (1859), I knew of no more refined, cultivated, and hospitable people anywhere, and I have had some knowledge of the people of this and foreign lands. They brought with them the institu- tion of slavery, which, no mattar what its faults may have been, gave to the people a phase of social life, an immunity from the drudgery of existence, a leisure for the cultivation of mind and manners, very favorable to the making of gentlemen and gentle- women. People opposed to slavery did not believe this be- cause they were simply ignorant of the subject. They said slavery was brutal, therefore slave-owners were brutal. Bad men are brutal often, and some slave-owners were brutal ; but that they were brutal as a class, I deny. There was a great deal of affection between the whites and blacks which could have been only the result of kindness. 430 The Sewanee Review Cruelty in our section was the exception and was universally- condemned. I remember one man in our neighborhood who was cruel to his slaves. He was not a bad looking man, was al- ways well dressed, and his manners were courtly in the extreme ; but I have seen that man walk the streets of Charlestown on court days, when the streets were crowded, without having a friend to speak to him. That kindness was the rule was fully proved during the civil war ; for when all men had gone to the front, and only the wom- en and negroes were left, the negroes were the only protectors and supporters the women had, and it is a historical fact that they performed their duties faithfully to the end, and not one single instance of outrage has been recorded. One of my slaves followed me for four years through the war, and, though given his freedom twice by our being captured, refused to be free and came back to me. And why should this not be so? I was the best friend he had in the world and he knew it. My father had a negro whom he trusted fully. There was a wedding in our neighborhood at Bedington, the home of the Bedingers, and my sister was bridesmaid to her cousin. In those days a house party was arranged in much more simple fashion than now. The houses had few rooms, but generally very large ones, and all the bridesmaids were quartered in one room. At this wedding there was a girl from Hoboken, a Miss Stevens, of the wealthy family of that name. When my sister returned home she did not unpack her trunk until late at night. My father was sitting up reading, when she entered the room in great distress, holding in her hands Miss Stevens's jewel-case, containing such jewels as we had never seen before. It was midnight and very cold, and a heavy snow was falling. My father sent for Frank, his trusted servant, and giving the case into his hands and telling him it was worth more than all he owned, ordered him to get a horse and ride to Bedington four miles distant and give the case into the hands of Miss Stevens, and no one else. Frank made the ride that stormy night and com- pelled the lady to come down in her night clothes and receive the jewel-case and write a letter of acknowledgement. Some care- less maid had packed Miss Steven's jewels in my sister's trunk. Reminiscences of Civil War by Confederate Staff Officer 431 Before the railroad was built, Frank drove the wagon of flour to Baltimore, and, even after the railroad was built, still Frank went every year before Christmas to Baltimore with a load of flour, bringing back a load which made everybody, white and black, happy at that festival. He generally arrived after dark, and the big canopied wagon was driven to the front door and left there during the night, the six great smoking horses having been led away to the stable. After supper the wagon was un- loaded and the treasures revealed to us, the children. In those days the factor, or commission merchant, had duties which are unknown now. When he sold the flour he filled or- ders for every conceivable want of the family. I met an old fac- tor, after I came to Baltimore to live, who told me he had, with the assistance of his wife, bought and had made up the entire trousseau of many a bride, besides outfits for the entire families of his friends in the country. The reader can imagine what an event Frank's arrival with his wagon was to us. I have now a handsome service of china which was brought from Baltimore on Frank's wagon. One Christmas observance the negroes had which was very primitive and peculiar. When the hogs were killed in Decem- ber they preserved the bladders and, inflating them and tying the necks tightly to retain the air, they hung them up to dry, and on Christmas morning, while the stars were shining, they laid them on the frozen ground under the windows of the white folks and exploded them by stamping on them, thus awakening the family and saluting them on the arrival of the great festival. I remember part of one of the songs which the ox-driver sang in a slow monotone, sitting on the pole of the ox-cart, and keep- ing time to the slow, swinging steps of the oxen : — " See de bull go to school, hooie booie, hooie booie, See de bull go to school, hooie booie John. See de bull go to school, wid his book on his horn, And dat is de las' of old blind John. " See de cow build de mill, hooie booie, hooie booie, See de cow build de mill, hooie booie John. See de cow build de mill, water runmn' up de hill, An dat is de las' of old blind John." 432 The Sewanee Review The verses were endless and seem to have been extemporized as he drove along. The kindly relations which existed between master and slave were quite natural. The negro in a state of slavery was docile, gentle, and easy-going. His freedom has given him the bump- tious arrogance with which the present generation is familiar. In slavery he was content as long as he did not suffer. Fire to warm him in winter and food to satisfy his hunger were the limits of his ambition. He loved to laugh and dance and sing songs. He loved approbation, and would do far more and bet- ter work for his master's smile than his frown. And the master's part was not difficult. He was kind because kindness paid him well. He took care of his slave because it was money in his pocket to do so, and money out of his pocket if he did not. Of course, there were other and higher motives in individuals, but we must look for a motive for the multitude. That the negro was better housed, better fed, better clothed, and better looked after in sickness than now, was simply be- cause the owner had money at stake. He had warm cloth- ing, plenty of wholesome food, and a good doctor when ill, be- cause of that money. In September the cloth and yarn for his winter clothing were brought home from the factory, and the work of making up began and was only finished at Christmas. In every household there was a woman who could cut out the garments, and all the younger girls had been taught how to sew and knit During the year, all the girls, in clean frocks, assem- bled in some room in the great house every morning, and the class of sewers and knitters was presided over by some spec- tacled old negro woman, whose word was law to them. The work of making up the clothing and knitting yarn socks went on under her supervision, and at Christmas every man and woman on the place appeared in new clothes and new shoes and warm woollen stockings. How many laboring people, white or black, have this provision now? And his other comforts. Every man had an overcoat every four years, and a flannel jacket, called by them (the negroes) a 'warmus', to wear under his waistcoat in cold weather. His tobacco was issued to him once a week, and when a boy I loved to be the distributer. Some- Reminiscences of Civil War by Confederate Staff Officer 433 times it was bought in kegs of about 100 pounds, and was called 'black-strap', and one strap, sometimes two, was the ra- tion. Some of them chewed it and some of them smoked it in their corncob pipes. This was before the days of fertilizers, when tobacco was raised from the virgin soil. Every year a farmer would clear a small patch of ground, sufficient for the wants of his farm, and plant it in tobacco. The fragrance of the negro's corncob pipe was notorious, and was due to the fact that no fertilizer had been used in growing his tobacco. After the harvest was ended each hand was paid one day's wages in gold and silver; the leading cradler got $5.00, the other cradlers $2. 50, and the others the usual wages, down to the little boy who carried the sheaves. If the neighbors had not finished their harvest the force was allowed to go and help them out, re- ceiving for themselves the usual wages. In all the fields of corn the outside rows were planted in broom-corn for the negroes' use, and they spent the long win- ter evenings in making brooms, baskets, hampers, and split- bottom chairs, all of which found a ready sale in the country stores. The chairs were of all sizes, from the large porch chairs down to low sewing chairs and chairs for children. They man- aged to make them very comfortable, and they were substantial and lasted a lifetime. There was often on the farm an old rheumatic negro who had learned to make shoes, and he made boots to the knee and nailed in the soles for all the men, and shoes for all the women and children, the master paying him for his work a moderate sum. Each man on the place was allotted a piece of ground which he planted in anything he liked, generally in melons, and the negroes' watermelons were always the best the farm produced. The thrifty negro was never without money in his pocket, and some have even been known to have money enough to buy their own freedom, or that of a wife or child who was in danger of being sold for the debts of their owner. In hot weather a ration of whisky steeped in tansy, and in malarial seasons a gill of whisky with five grains of quinine was issued to each man every morning before he went to his work. It is all over now, and I for one am glad of it ; but the fact remains that the slave 28 434 The Sewanee Review did his work, and was moderately comfortable and happy, and the master took care of him. In those days the kitchen was generally detached or only connected with the house by a cov- ered way. The meals were brought in by detachments and put down in front of the fire, inside the brass fender. When all was ready the meal was announced, the family took their seats, and the viands were served hot from the fire. There was also a plate warmer which stood on the hearth in front of the dining-room fire. The advantage of these arrangements was twofold, — you got a hot meal on a hot plate and you knew what your dinner was to be without a menu card. One evening my father (who had come in after a cold day on horseback) was sitting in front of the dining-room fire waiting for his supper, when Tom, the waiter, came in and put down on the hearth two plates of beaten biscuits. In leaning over to do this, several tell-tale biscuits dropped from the unbuttoned breast of his coat. Tom stood still, utterly dumfounded, but my father said promptly, "Tom, Tom, you old rascal, you are simply raining biscuits this even- ing. Pick 'em up, Tom, pick 'em up and put 'em in your pocket. It won't do to waste good biscuits, Tom", — and poor Tom picked up the biscuits and put them in his pocket and retired in great confusion and in sorrow, too, for he was blubber- ing like a great baby. I remember well my mother's attitude toward our slaves. She had a school where all the young ones were taught (con- trary to law). She taught them herself, and her Sunday school was always full. All our young slaves could read and some of them could write. My old Mammy always wrote to my mother when she was away from home. When we (the children) gathered around the table to study our lessons at night, she always took her place at the table with pen, ink, and paper. "Now, children," she would say, "I am going to write to your ma, and I don't want to give a bad account of any of you." I can remember the times I laid my weary head in Mammy's lap and said my sleepy prayers, and I remember her sitting nodding by my bedside until I should fall asleep. And I remember Mammy's funeral, for I was almost a man then. We were living in Charlestown, and Mammy was old and lived in a cabin at the Reminiscences of Civil War by Confederate Staff Officer 435 bottom of the garden walk and never came to the house. On good days she sat in her door in the sun with her Bible on her knees. My mother was old and feeble, but on good days she would walk down to the cabin, while in bad weather she would go on the back porch and look down the walk until the two saw each other, and then they would wave their hands at each other. When Mammy died, my father determined to bury her in the Episcopal graveyard at Zion Church. Although a vestryman, he could not get permission, but the procession moved up the back street, about half a mile in the August sun, the coffin, car- ried by eight strong men, my father with his hat off, walking im- mediately behind it. When we came to the gates they were locked, but after a little delay they were opened somehow, and Mammy, the only negro, lies buried in Zion churchyard with the white folks, and some day she will rise as white as any there. The most remarkable feature of the situation in our section was that refinement and even elegance could exist on such very small means. A man with a small farm (say 300 acres), worth about $12,000, and a few slaves was really a prince, — a prince of the kind that no millionaire of the present day can even emulate. His butler, his coachman, his cook, were all his property. They could not strike for higher wages, they could not give notice of leaving. They were there and there to stay. Knowing this, the head of the house was free from some of the carking cares which beset the most favored people of the present age. He had leisure to think, to read, to cultivate his mind and manners, and to indulge himself in social pleasure. He was a better-educated man, a better-read man in current and an- cient literature, and he was a better-mannered man than the man of the present age ; freed from little worries, his temper was better, his heart was softer, and his disposition more sunny and genial. Social intercourse, therefore, was on a plane which is now unknown. There was little attempt at grandeur or ex- travagant display ; a beautiful simplicity pervaded life and gave it its greatest charm. Of course there were degrees of wealth : the man with thou- sands of acres and hundreds of slaves, the man with a few hun- dred acres and a few slaves ; but the latter was all the same a 436 The Sewanee Review prince and was so recognized by the former. The man with the smaller fortune was just as independent as the other, and in some respects was in a rather more favored position. His cares were fewer, certainly, and his time was more his own, while his social position was as good as anybody's. He was re- ceived in all social functions, his financial status not being con- sidered in the least. His intellectual and educational advan- tages were of great importance and his manners also. As a con- sequence, he was careful to cultivate these, and was generally entertaining and agreeable. It is well known that the man I am describing was well posted in political and other matters of his own and antecedent epochs. I have know men of this stamp who knew well their Homer and their Thucydides, their Bacon and their Shakespeare, and were ready and apt in quotations, and at the same time were not lifted above current events, but rather gave them the preference in conversation, using their knowledge of the past in illustration of events of the present. Among such people social events were very different from those of the present day. A friend of mine told me of a dinner in New York the other day at which twenty-five hundred millions of dollars were present. He told me nothing of the people, what they said or what they did, he only told me in bated breath of the money. Such a dinner in olden times was of course unknown, and in compar- ing them, words cannot express my preference for the old. I can remember some of those dinners when the ladies had re- tired, and the decanters of old Madeira went circling round over the polished mahogany, and am filled with regret that those days have passed away forever. In reading Sir Ronald Gower's book descriptive of the man- ner of living in England, especially at the court of Queen Vic- toria, where he was an intimate of the royal family, I was struck with the similarity to life in Virginia in the olden time. It was before the days of course-dinners, — a Russian innovation I be- lieve, — and the queen would ask a guest to carve the pair of fowls in front of him, the cloth was removed, and the decanters of wine put on in coasters, and in many other respects the customs were indentical in the two countries. In the country Reminiscences of Civil War by Confederate Staff Officer 437 life in England to-day, many of the custom of the olden times are kept up, while in this country they are only a memory. In our neighborhood, there was a debating society which met at the different farm houses in winter every Saturday night, the host at each meeting being ex-officio chairman. The neighbor- hood was composed of people of much more cultivation than will be found in a farming country now, and the debate was of un- usual excellence, although there were the usual ridiculous fail- ures. The farmers were not the only people who lived in the country. In our neighborhood old lawyers who had won their spurs, and some doctors, lived on farms and went every day to offices in town. There were two judges and four members or ex-members of Congress, two novelists, and two poets of some ability, and also two artists, — notably David Strother (afterwards General Strother of the Federal Army), who, in the late forties and early fifties, under the nom deplume of "Porte Crayon", wrote for Harper's Magazine and illustrated his writings ; Alex- ander R. Botiler, who was in Congress at one time and was an orator as well as a caricaturist, whose efforts, we thought, would compare favorably with those of Leach and Du Maurier and Henry Bedinger, orator, poet, and wit, who during his short life represented his district in Congress, and had been also minister to Denmark and a friend and favorite of the king. And the parson (the rector of our church) lived on a farm and reared a family of twelve children, among them eight of the wild- est boys in the county. While some few of the best people lived in the town, yet the town was a place to go for shopping and business ; the country was the place to live. One Saturday, the debate was at our house, and I remember it well, though only eight years old, from an amusing incident. We had staying with us a cousin who had lately taken a wife and had brought her to make our acquaintance. During the day, he told my father he thought he would like to speak on the question for the evening. He was posted on it and had thought much upon the subject. My father told him that after the regular debate was over, anyone could speak, and if he arose he would recognize him. When the regular debaters had fin- ished their very able efforts, my cousin George sprang to his 438 The Sewanee Review feet. He was usually a mild, amiable sort of young man, but now he looked quiet fierce and determined, and, stretch- ing out his right arm, began: "Mr. President, it strikes me," — but somehow he stuck there. My father bowed and smiled en- couragingly, and he began again. "Mr. President, it strikes me," — and still the words did not come. And yet a third time he took on an attitude of defiance, and, stretching out his right arm, said, "Mr. President, it strikes me — ." Now his little wife was sitting over in the corner behind some other ladies, and when he came out for the third time with his " Mr. President, it strikes me, — " she leaned forward and said very quietly, "dumb, George." Instantly he turned and looked at her, his fierce face breaking into a smile, as he said, "My dear, you are quite right, it strikes me dumb," — and down he sat; and this was my cousin George's speech. I have often thought I inherited some of my cousin George's talent for public speaking, for whenever I have been called upon, no matter how full I thought I was of ideas upon the subject, — a very ocean of impending eloquence, — a rapidly receding wave swept all away, leaving me (intellectu- ally) a stranded wreck, and as dumb as my poor cousin. On the evenings of debate, the company always adjourned to the dining-room, where a supper of cold turkey, ham, etc., was washed down with good old Madeira. And the women, — the matrons and the maids of that time, — their soft voices and their gentle ways! They did not belong to women's clubs, they did not ride bicycles and horses astride, and they did not drive automobiles or lecture on platforms. They were brought up without coming in contact with the rude outer world ; they were generally educated at home by govern- esses. Every girl had her maid, who waited on her, and she was a stranger to drudgery. One would suppose from this that they would be useless toys as wives, and poor companions for educated and stirring men, but the supposition would be wrong. I have seen a girl of thirteen take the head of her father's table, in her mother's absence, and play hostess in such a simple and sweet fashion as would charm her father's guests. She had watched her mother in these trying ordeals, and had insensibly learned her lesson, and when it came her turn to preside at Reminiscences of Civil War by Confederate Staff Officer 439 her husband's table and take upon herself the cares of a family, she had little to learn! And when the great Civil War came, with what splendid heroism she stood at her post at home, and sent her husband and her sons to battle! And when the struggle was ended, with what uncomplaining cheerfulness she undertook the drudgeries of her altered circumstances! These are not merely the tales of a fond old man, revelling in the visions of his youth ; they are parts of the immortal history of the Southland. Upon these people living peacefully and happily in that beau- tiful valley, the Brown Raid came in October, 1859, as a clap of thunder from a clear sky. The John Brown Raid There is a turnpike road from Harper's Ferry southwestward through Charlestown eight miles, thence twelve miles to Berry- ville, and thence ten miles to Winchester. It is a macadamized road, and was, during the war, the main road for both armies in their many marches up and down the Valley of Virginia. At the time of the Raid I was living on a farm six miles south- west from Charlestown, and therefore fourteen miles from Harper's Ferry, on this turnpike road. On the Monday morning of the 20th of October, 1859, I was overlooking the work of the men, who were cutting off corn in a field near Ripon, our post office station. I noticed that the men often turned their eyes on me as I followed behind them in their work, — a thing I had never observed in them before. Their glances were stolen glances, and made me feel uncomfortable and doubtful, — an entirely new sensation in my experience as a slave owner. The post office, where the stage to Berryville stopped to deliver the mail, was in sight. A negro boy passed up the path leading across the field to the post office at Ripon about two o'clock. It was his daily task to go for the mail at this hour. He soon returned, swinging the empty mail bag and reported, "there is no mail." Accustomed to having the daily paper at least, I walked immediately to Ripon and there heard the news of the Raid, much exaggerated, of course, but still presenting the main facts. Harper's Ferry had been invaded the night before (Sunday 440 The Sewanee Review night) by a band of armed man, who had arrested some citizens, and killed several, and now held possession of the town and of all the trains on the B. & O. Railroad. Among the dead were my neighbor, George W. Turner (a retired army officer), F. Breakham (the agent of the railroad), and Heyward, a negro porter at the railway station. How many men composed the party of raiders was not known. They had crossed the river from the Maryland side about nine o'clock Sunday night. Sentinels were posted at the street corners, and all citizens on the street were told to go home and remain in their houses. The churches let out their congregations at this hour, and for a time the streets were filled with people, but these soon disappeared under the advice of the raiders ; a few who refused were arrested. The men wore short cloaks or blankets, under which they concealed the short Sharp's rifles with which they were armed. During the night, a party under Brown in person made a raid into the country and arrested Lewis W. Washington and John H. Allstandt and brought them to Harper's Ferry. Brown also armed himself with the sword of General Washington and carried away other relics of the "father of his country." But the reign of John Brown's party was of short duration. The wires were busy during the night, and in the morning Harper's Ferry was invested by military companies from Charlestown, Win- chester, Shepherdstown, Martinsburg, and Frederick, and Brown was soon forced to take refuge in the engine house in the U. S. armory yard, taking his prisoners as hostages with him. Everybody seemed to have heard of these things except me, who had remained at home all that Monday and had seen no- body and heard nothing. I returned home, passing through the field where my men were at work, and observed that their covert glances were more frequent and more eager, and I now knew well the cause. It was a well-known fact that the negroes had some means of getting news which white people did not have, and I was sure my men knew as much about the Raid and more, probably, than I did. In fact it was ascertained afterwards that John Brown's emissaries in the shape of peddlers, book agents, etc., etc., had been among the negroes for a year past, and had acquainted Reminiscences of Civil War by Confederate Staff Officer 441 them with his plan, even the day he would take Harper's Ferry. Brown told me in the jail at Charlestown that he looked for at least five hundred slaves to join him at Harper's Ferry, that his army would be five thousand in a few days, and that he would have one hundred thousand in a month, all armed with Harper's Ferry rifles he had captured, and that then five million slaves being in revolt, the whites would be at their mercy. I saw him several times in the jail, and he talked quite freely to me and Colonel Lawson Botts, my brother-in-law, who was assigned by the judge for the defence. Leaving the field, I went to the house and ordered my saddle horse and my wife's carriage. I told my wife nothing of the Raid, but asked her if she did not wish to take the children to her mother's for the night, as I would be absent on business. She was always glad to do this, and started as soon as she could get ready. As soon she was out of sight, I took my rifle and mounted my horse and started for Harper's Ferry. Within the first mile, I met an old darky who said, " Marster, I see you is off for de war ; Marse John done put on his war clothes and he's gone." Marse John was a militia colonel and I found enough colonels and generals at Harper's Ferry to capture Brown's party without their commands. Arriving at Harper's Ferry about nine at night, I found every- thing quiet, the streets filled with soldiers, but no fighting. John Brown was said to be cooped up in the engine house, and pickets were posted to prevent approach to that centre, but no one could tell me what was going to be done. Learning, how- ever, that Col. Robert E. Lee had arrived and was in command, I went at once to his quarters. I had known Colonel Lee, for when a boy I was at school with Custis Lee, his son ; and sending in my name, was admitted. The room was filled with militia and a council of war was being held. Colonel Lee asked their advice, from the junior to the senior officer, but no one seemed to know what to do. They had driven Brown into the engine house, where he was protected by strong brick walls with an occasional brick knocked out as a "port hole," and none of them knew how to get him out. They could batter down the walls with cannon, but in doing so would sacrifice Brown's prisoners. 442 The Sewanee Review Finally Colonel Lee said, "Gentlemen, I will now bid you good- night; to-morrow morning at eight o'clock I will storm the engine house with a detachment of marines under Lieut. Israel Green." Going out into the street, I met a few of my old friends who had been cadets with me, and let them into the secret. We went to the hotel on the railroad, which faced the engine house, and took a room overlooking the scene of the impending conflict. The windows of the room opened on the roof of a porch facing the engine house and not more than twenty yards distant, and we had a perfect view of the whole performance. The next morning, at a few minutes before eight o'clock, Colonel Lee appeared in the street below, and we immediately passed through the windows onto the porch roof. We were in full view, and if Brown had not had his hands so full, his men could have quickly routed us. Colonel Lee was dressed very quietly : felt hat with cord and tassel, a short blue cape braided in black, and carried under his arm his sword in its scabbard, the whole encased in a buckskin cover. He walked slowly to- wards the engine house and took his stand behind one of the stone pillars of the gateway of the armory yard, and I thought then, as I have often thought since, when following him through a four-years' war, that certainly there could be no finer type of soldier than he. Capt. J. E. B. Stuart now approached the engine house bearing a flag of truce, a white handkerchief on the point of his drawn sword. After a short colloquy with Brown through the doors, he retired and dropped his white flag as a signal for attack. Very soon a squad of marines advanced from the railroad at double quick, and tried to batter down the doors of the engine house with sledge hammers, but Brown had stayed the doors with chains across them and had pushed up the fire engine against them, and the sledge hammers merely split the planks without breaking down the doors. The sledge-hammer squad retired, and soon twenty marines, carrying a long ladder on their shoulders, ran rapidly towards the doors, using the ladder as a battering ram, and after two attempts, the doors gave way, the ladder crashing through them and reamining in a slanting po- Reminiscences of Civil War by Confederate Staff Officer 443 sition, about ten feet of the forward end remaining inside and resting on the engine, the near end resting on the ground, offering easy access to the engine house. Immediately an officer (some say Israel Green, some Jeb Stuart, but both of them were on the ladder at the same time) sprang upon the ladder, followed by the marines (one of whom was shot as he entered and died), and in a few minutes Brown and his party were prisoners. But Brown and his party had made a desperate fight, had fired through the port holes and through the doors incessantly, and though two of them were lying dead in the engine house, the living were perfectly cool and undaunted to the end. Colonel Washington emerged from his prison-house looking as well dressed as usual, and seemed as cool as if nothing had happened. He said he would like some breakfast. The other prisoners were uninjured, having only suffered the discomfort of a day and a night in the engine house. Brown had a scalp wound at the hands of Captain Stuart, I believe ; two of Brown's men were lying dead in the engine house ; one was lying dead on a rock in the middle of the Potomac ; one named Stephens was severely wounded, and the rest (excepting a man named Cook, who escaped early in the morning before Brown was driven into the engine house, but was subsequently captured in Pennsylvania and brought back to the Charlestown jail) were all taken to Charlestown and lodged in jail. The scene now changes to Charlestown, where the prisoners were already lodged in jail. Charlestown, the county-seat of Jefferson County, was founded in 1 786 and named after Colonel Charles Washington, a brother of General George Washington. He owned nearly all the land in the vicinity, and eighty acres were laid out in lots and streets as Charles Town. The original trustees were John Augustine Washington, William Drake, Robert Rutherford (great grand- father of the writer), James Crane, Cato Moore, Magness Tate, Benjamin Rankin, Thornton Washington, William Little, Alex- ander White, and Richard Ranson. The people of the county bore such names as the Washingtons (several families), the Lees, Davenports, Danridges, Pendletons, Turners, Lewises, Whitings, and Lowndes ; while in Clarke, the adjoining county, were the 444 The Sewanee Review Randolphs, the Pages, the Meads, the Carters, the Nelsons, Lewises, etc., etc., — old Virginia names and well known in her history. General hospitality was the rule among all the people, and an opportunity was now presented to them for a boundless exercise of this trait. Almost every organized and armed body of men in the State was present, and Charlestown became a military camp. Bat- teries of artillery were stationed on the outskirts. Cavalrymen patrolled the whole county and especially the northern border, thousands of infantry were camped in and around the town, and the sleepy little village awoke to the sights and sounds of war. Rumors were afloat of a rising of John Brown's friends in the North, that they were approaching the town in large bodies with the intention of rescuing him, and apprehension and excite- ment pervaded the whole community. Cavalry scouts increased their activity and vigilance ; artillery was so placed as to sweep by its fire all the approaches, the infantry was often kept under arms all night. But nothing came of the rumors ; excitement died down gradually, and confidence was again restored. The militia was composed of the flower of Virginia families and were received and entertained in old Virginia fashion. Among the young the tragic side of the Raid was soon forgotten in a round of gaiety very unusual and very exciting. All houses in the town and county were thrown open to the soldiers, and dinners, suppers, balls and parties seemed to be the main occu- pation of everybody. It was a repetition of Brussels before Waterloo, when — " Soft eyes look'd love to eyes which spake again, And all went merry as a marriage-bell." All this, however, was among the young. Old men looked grave and shook their heads, and middle-aged faces had traces of care and thought. Military companies were forming every- where. They were being uniformed, armed, and drilled. The Second Virginia Infantry was formed at this time, composed of companies from Charlestown, Shepherdstown, Martinsburg, Berryville, and Harper's Ferry. The field officers and some of the captains of companies were old cadet graduates of the Vir- ginia Military Institute, and the writer was Adjutant. The Reminiscences of Civil War by Confederate Staff Officer 445 same thing was going on in a less degree all over the State, and preparations for war were being made, although in a superficial and utterly inadequate way. The truth is, people feared war but did not believe in it, and consequently when war did come, were entirely unprepared for it. In the meantime, John Brown's men were recovering from their wounds and were speedily brought to trial. Able de- fenders did all they could for them before the juries, — the late Senator Vorhees of Indiana being of Brown's counsel, but they were all found guilty, condemned, and hanged. After sixty days of excitement such as they had never before experienced, the people went back to their farms and their merchandise and their apparently quiet life, but underneath there was an uncertainty and dread of the future which thinking people could not rid themselves of, and which was to be more than realized in one short year. How many men Brown had with him in the Raid, I do not now remember, but I am sure there were not over nineteen in all. That he should have attempted so much with so small a force would argue that he was not of sound mind, but it seems he had worked out his proposition quite thoroughly in his own head, and on plausible if not practical lines. His theory was that the negroes in bondage were all thirsting for freedom and would gladly and instantly embrace the first opportunity which was presented them. He neglected to estimate the true char- acter of the negro and the real conditions of his bondage. He did not know that while the negro was anxious to be free, yet from long dependence upon others, was not likely to act promptly and independently. He forgot that the ne- groes, in that section at least, were comfortable and happy, that there was such a thing as love between master and slave, that many negroes loved their homes and were proud of the families who owned them. As a consequence, not one slave joined him at Harper's Ferry, although they had ample notice of his coming. The negro Heyward refused positively to join him and was shot dead in consequence. This was a fatal error, for if his success had even been partial such an act would have prevented the slaves from joining him. 446 The Sewanee Review They would have regarded him as a cruel tyrant and not as a friend and deliverer. For a year before the Raid, Brown and his men had been living on a mountain farm on the Maryland side of the Potomac, about a mile from Harper's Ferry. There he formed his plans and sent his emissaries through the South. Being so near, he acquainted himself with all the conditions at Harper's Ferry, the number and quality of the arms stored in the arsenal, etc., etc. There, on the farm, he made thousands of pikes with which to arm the ignorant slaves until he could teach them the use of firearms, and from there, on the day appointed, he marched at night into Harper's Ferry and took possession. The only thing wanting to what he would have esteemed success, was the rising of the slaves and flocking to his standard. He forgot that if even five hundred slaves had joined him at Harper's Ferry on the Sunday night, they would all have fallen victims to the troops which, armed, drilled, and disciplined, rushed by trains to Harper's Ferry on Monday morning. He forgot that, though he might have coped for awhile with the volunteer troops, the power of the U. S. Government and its army would have been on him in a day or two. His success in sparsely settled Kansas had turned his head, and he failed to estimate properly new conditions which awaited him in his venture in the East ; and while the North must regard him as a philanthropist who gave his life for an idea, the South must re- gard him as a crazed and reckless freebooter. Even the poor ignorant slaves showed a better judgment of the situation than Brown. When the armies of the North came down in countless legions, the negro saw his opportunity and embraced it. When Brown came with his nineteen, they had sense enough to see the utter folly of his attempt and turned their backs upon him to a man. When I got home after the war there was one able-bodied negro on the farm who had never left it. I asked him why he had not gone with the others, and he said, "I thought that if I was to be a slave I would rather be a slave here than anywhere else ; and if I was to be free, I would rather be free here than anywhere else. I have a comfortable home, plenty to eat and Reminiscences of Civil War by Confederate Staff Officer 447 to wear, and am cared for when I am sick, and I don't see that any of those who went away have anything more, and some of them have much less." These are sound views and argue for the negro more sense than Brown gave him credit for. That negro is living in his cabin on that farm to this day. In all that I have said upon the subject of slavery, it must not be understood that I have sought to justify or defend it. When I was a boy twelve years old, I made up my mind that slavery was wrong and I have never changed it. When I be- came a man, I found many who agreed with me and we were only waiting for some able mind to devise a scheme of emanci- pation. The negro was a knotty problem then and will remain a knotty problem for ages to come. A. R. H. Ranson. Catonsville, Maryland.